The Veronica Mars Movie Kickstarter Campaign: Don't You Dare Feel Bad About Chipping In

VeronicaMars_SadSometime between 10:30 am Wednesday — when the Veronica Mars movie Kickstarter campaign was announced — and 11 am, something unfortunate, but perhaps inevitable, happened. People started getting kicked for kicking their money in.

What started off as a celebration of the impassioned TV fan turned into a condemnation of those who, I like to think, have a say in how their own money gets spent.

Hell, even I was left to feel “dirty” about writing a story about it, the outcry, criticisms and finger-wagging blogging came flowing so hard. But in the end, as I donated my $[SPOILER] just minutes before the tote board ticked past the important $2 million mark, I achieved peace with my pledge.

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Wouldn’t that money have been better donated to a charity? This was an early refrain from those who questioned this Kickstarter project. First speaking for myself: I donate throughout the year to assorted medical research and animal welfare causes. I also chipped in for the “loftier” Showrunners documentary’s Kickstarter campaign (as well as to the fundraiser for the way-cool Spike keyboard for iPhone). And who’s to say that a meaningful portion of the tens of thousands of Veronica Mars backers don’t also give to worthy causes, to the extent they are able or willing? No one ever went to bed feeling better about themselves because they spent their day assuming the worst about humanity.

But perhaps the most echoed criticism came in the form of: Why are you donating your hard-earned money to get a studio film made? When Warner Bros. will kick back and reap any profit?

The short answer: Because this was a time for the little guy to make a difference.

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Television is an impactful medium. Quality and/or ambitious shows get cancelled too quickly, far too often. (People are even mourning Zero Hour, after two episodes.) And 99 percent of the time, once the Nielsen Ratings Gods have spoken, we are left to do nothing, to feel without resource.

But this time… this time, the little guy was heard. Some 30,000 people who will never brush up blurbagainst celebrity, Regular Joes who will not once see their name in an end credits crawl, were afforded — and passionately seized — the opportunity to produce a piece of entertainment. I ask: When does that ever happen?

Movie studio executives greenlight any and whatever projects they like, and in this instance, Veronica Mars: The Motion Picture simply was not going to happen. Yet when put in the hands of the fans (and their friends) who have steadfastly and long-anticipated this unlikelihood, that excited mob rallied to secure their piece of happiness.

A lot of the time, the Internet is used to tear things down. To mock Smash, to snark about red carpet fashions, to hurt. All from the cozy, oft-anonymous comfort of everyone’s couches.

For 10 thrilling hours on Wednesday, though, 30,000 strangers banded together online to create something.

No, the Veronica Mars Kickstarters will never see even a fraction of a back-end point if the movie happens to turn a profit. But they will smile knowing that they were a part of something rather historical. A gone-too-soon series was plucked from the ashes not by a struggling network anxious to plug a scheduling hole, but by the very people who loved and were left to mourn it. Stand on a soap box and question the dissemination of discretionary income all you want, but do not dare rob other people of their self-defined joy.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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239 Comments
  1. Kim says:

    All I can say is….I hope the people that were making negative comments about this sit back and look at their $5 coffee that they drink twice a day and realize that at least we did something. It may not be world peace or ending hunger but we accomplished something together. So sip your $5 coffee while you wiggle your toes in Jimmy Choos, and ask yourself, the next time you spend money, are you making a difference? Because the money I spent makes a difference to me.

  2. jenna says:

    Very much agree, Matt. Thank you. I have seen too many of my favorite shows cancelled because of low ratings. Yet the networks will keep bland shows that should have been cancelled years ago (hello CBS). I felt the same as you: let the little guy have a say finally, the one without a Nielsen box.

  3. Jana Wells says:

    I proudly pledged $25 and can’t wait to get my tshirt to show everyone I did without saying a word. I did see a few people question shouldn’t this money go to charity and why is more not done to help others and I remembered what happened in my little neck of the woods three weeks ago. One post from a daughter whose Mom was badly injured in a car accident is in need of blood transfusions, she posted a request on facebook about 8 pm, but 3 the next day there had been 25 people at the Marsh Blood Center donating on her mothers behalf, but that weekend over 100. Those people didn’t just give money they gave themselves. We were told that was a record, just like the Kickstarter record yesterday.

    Many things can call someone to action, helping someone by donating blood or YES TV characters and their portrayers, you want to see continue. How can anyone say that we have to spend our money or our blood any specific way. The call to action is mine to do with as I see fit. Proud of my friend who gave that rare blood needed and proud of all the Marshmellows who gave their hard earned money to make a money. Everyone is entitled to find joy where they can.

    Off my soap box for now.

  4. Kali says:

    Loved your article Matt. So overflowing with optimism…I am one of the little guys and honestly, if my favorite show that I am emotionally commited to was prematurely cancelled, I would love to have a way to ne heard by the all-powerfull networks who seem to base their decisions on an outdated rating system and, of course, on money, money, money…

  5. mia says:

    Thanks for this. I dontated (quite significantly) and then I was starting to feel bad about it. Why am I giving Warner Brothers my money like this? Especially if they make a profit off it – we’ll never see any residuals. But we’ll still have a movie and I guess its like buying the DVDs afterward.

    • realityengineer says:

      As I posted later on this page re: “Especially if they make a profit off it – we’ll never see any residuals.”. The problem is they couldn’t have raised this as investment money in a startup this way. It isn’t legal using the usual startup process which limits the number of investors, and makes it preferable to only take money from “accredited investors”, i.e. rich people. The way companies go public on a stock exchange requires massive expenses which aren’t viable for a startup. Big companies don’t like innovative competitors, so they get politicians to make it harder for them to startup. They rationalize this as preventing people from being scammed. when in reality that claim is a scam since the whole purpose is to protect big companies.

  6. Beth says:

    Oh gee, the Internet took the opportunity to tear down other people for their personal choices? Shocker. I gave proudly and unashamedly, and I could care less what some anonymous bored poster thinks of my decision. I feel like Rob Thomas, Kristen Bell, and everyone involved in this are deeply grateful for the support, and my reward will be seeing more of a show that I loved so much.

    • tripoli says:

      You do realize that anyone who made a negative comment is now being rorn down as well? One is not better than the other. Different side sof the same coin. And obviously you do care or you wouldn’t feel the need to comment, thus justifying your personal choice. Kudos to you for doing what you want but those who chose not to donate or to question those who did donate are also doing what they want and deserve to do so just as much as you.

      • tripoli says:

        Oh and just to quiet the storm of comments I’m sure to get, I was a fan of the show and think it’s great that people decided to get involved.. Didn’t donate and wouldn’t have even if my finances allowed but to to each their own. Enjoy it when it comes out.

        • VM says:

          Notice the big difference between what you just said and what those this article was about are saying and acting like though?

  7. Emily says:

    Thanks for writing this Matt! I haven’t really heard any backlash from people I know, but it doesn’t surprise me that people would. As a Veronica Mars fan, I’m beyond stoked to be able to help in just a tiny way bring this story back to the screen (doesn’t matter what size). But I’m also really excited to be a part of this new way of making a movie outside of the traditional studio process. The last 5 years have seen a lot of changes in how movies and art in general get made: from Joss Whedon and Doctor Horrible and now his micro-budget Much Ado About Nothing, as well as the stuff that Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the Hit Record community does. It’s really exciting and I’m proud to be a patron in this endeavor.

  8. marge says:

    Great article. And I think the whole Kickstarter thing was a great idea as the result is the Veronica Mars fans get what they want – a movie. Whether or not the people who contributed give to charities is irrelevant because these people are giving their money to something they are passionate about and believe in. So what if WB suits will reap the benefits? The fans win, too, as they will get the entertainment they helped get off the ground. Money isn’t everything. This movie is going to make a lot of VM fans happy. (I’ve never seen an episode of VM but now I’m intrigued :) )

  9. Jessica says:

    This is why I love TVLine. They get it! I donated before the $1M mark and I’m proud of it!

  10. Faye says:

    There are always going to be people who criticize others for no reason but their own spite. I donate 10 percent of my income to charity, and am fiscally responsible. If I want to use some of my discretionary income for this, there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s a lot less than some forms of entertainment — why not bash people who spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on huge flat-screens?

    This is a victory for “little people.” Billionaire bigwigs control the entertainment industry because they have the money to do so. But the Veronica Mars fandom used our collective power to speak. We should be applauder for that! Go us!

  11. Lillyg says:

    The main problem is that people think it’s a “donation.”

    I’m sorry but it’s not a donation, people. It’s an investment. And people should see it that way and not a way of spoiling charity from their money (that, btw, they mainly spend in rep work and not charity). If someone invest in a company, are they doing the same? Should it be given to charity too instead of financing companies? And how do you think movies are produced? By making magically appear money? Nope.

    We can invest in producing music, video games, movies, documentaries. And I think it’s great to actually be able to do that, particularly when you can invest loads of money like big majors.

  12. Mikael says:

    I see this campaign as just more evidence that the television ratings system (Nielson) is so outdated and just is not fair. It clearly does not represent what the people are actually watching. I understand that it’s all about ad revenue and the networks don’t make money off DVR and DVD/Blu-Ray sales, but the networks are so cancel-happy these days. If Buffy aired today, it wouldn’t have gotten a 2nd season, let alone make it to 7. I am so happy for us Veronica Mars fans. It’s sending a message those networks and studios. To them I’m sure it makes no difference, but it just proves that they are not the be all end all.

  13. Samesung says:

    I just have one question to all people whining about people funding a movie and not charities…how is this any different than spending 11.00 to watch a movie in a theatre? how many films have made over 100 million dollars? why isn’t anybody bashing those people?

  14. Amanda says:

    I gave 35 dollars for a t-shirt, a script and a digital copy of the movie. All of which I would spend to see it in theaters and eventually by my own copy. Why is that bad? It’s what I would have spent that money (actually probably more) to see this anyway.

  15. Me says:

    Well said Matt! I was proud of my fellow TV watchers when they broke the $2m mark yesterday. No one should tell anyone how to spend their money. I have never seen an episode of this show but I was in awe of what such dedicated fans could do. To all those who participated, congratulations and enjoy your movie.

  16. Tedi says:

    I love this article! I chipped in and have no qualms about it! It felt good to know that I contributed towards something that many of us has only dreamt about for the past like 6 years. This is a great example of making a big dream a reality. Don’t knock it besides, didn’t anyone ever tell you to not count people’s money? Unless it was coming out of your pocket you have absolutely no reason to gripe!

  17. Ali says:

    Here, here! Well said. I for one was super surprised at the amount of negative feedback. I mean you always just know you are going to find something negative on any ol comment section (gotta have daily dose of negativity I guess) but this to me made no sense and yet was voiced by so many people.

  18. RobMF says:

    Great read Matt, even as someone who didn’t watch the show I get it and this was a great article.

  19. maltru says:

    Reblogged this on Indoor Cat's Guide to Geekery and commented:
    This article perfectly encapsulates why I gave money to the Kickstarter campaign- I love Veronica Mars, and I wanted to be part of something, to contribute and help create something new from something, to bring a part of the (recent) past back.

  20. Chris says:

    Thanks Matt. You described my feelings perfectly. I’m going to point my friends and family to this article when they ask why I chose to give money to this project.

  21. Anyone who tries to make the charity argument needs to show me their bank statements. Unless they are giving ALL of their disposable income to charity, they need to shut up.

  22. Jean says:

    I just think that part of the attraction of Kickstarter for large pledge (500$ or more) could of been owning a bit of the movie. I mean want to or not the studio is going to make tons of money profit wise, even more since they don’t have to pay a major sum for the movie. I think the idea is great. I dont know why people are so passionate about this show. I looked at the title and premise and was not interested at all, but if the fans can accomplish something, maybe TV series that were cancelled too quickly can be ressurrected the same way, since network TV is all about money !!!

    • realityengineer says:

      re: “could of been owning a bit of the movie”

      See my comments later on this page, it would have been illegal to sell stock in a startup company to a huge group like this due that due to restrictions imposed on who can invest in startups. The only way technically possible might have been the way big companies go “public” (though I’m unsure now if they could have found a way to qualify), but the costs for that are so huge it isn’t a viable approach to raising this amount of money. The last paperwork changes led some public companies to go private since it cost too much to be public.

  23. Sara says:

    In reply to the charity comment, about 8 years ago I googled the cast of Veronica Mars because I was obsessed with the show and saw Kristen Bell and Ryan Hansen wearing t-shirts that promoted a non-profit. I then got involved with that organization and have since single-handedly raised over $2,000 to go towards that charity. So while my $35 donation to this movie project could have been spent on charity, so could the $20 I spent going out to dinner or the $12 I spent going to see Oz. But I in no way feel guilty for putting that money towards supporting a group of people whose television show changed my life and made me the philanthropist I am today.

  24. Simone says:

    I don’t really understand the criticism. When I buy a movie ticket, or a dvd, or a Dillon Panthers t-shirt, I don’t expect to get a cut in the profits made by the show. This was a pre-purchase of merchandise, depending on your donation level, that you most likely would have otherwise purchased.

    I would have paid to see the movie and buy the DVD. And now, I already have and I helped get it made!

  25. Mr John says:

    Studios will see people giving them money and start to decide that this is a good standard business model. Ask people to fund the movie, then sell them tickets, etc… Hey, more power to them if people are willing to pay more…

    • Marie says:

      Not many films can be made for $2 million. The reason this is happening is because the cast, writer;director are not making much, if any money, for doing it. It’s an act of goodwill on their parts as well as ours. That’s not going to be a business model for other Hollywood films. Maybe some independents if the creator, writer and actors don’t mind waiting to be paid til after the film is in the red.

  26. mm says:

    Thank you for this, Matt. Well put, and exactly how I — and many others — feel.

  27. Jason says:

    The charity arguement is a silly one, and could be applied to anything people spend money on…”why do you splurge for cable? why did you buy that cup of coffee this morning? all that money could be spent on charity!”

  28. anthonyfiti says:

    If Kickstarter was around 10 years ago when Firefly got cancelled, and someone did the same thing as VM, the Internet wouldn’t be able to pat itself on the back fast enough for getting the movie funded.

    Don’t look down on other people’s fandom.

  29. kallie says:

    No one going to tell me how to spend my money! I pledged and giggled liked a school girl afterwards lol. People spend money on all things, that’s there right and this was mine GO VM!!!

  30. AT says:

    I actually almost donated just because I like the precendent that this sets. I try to put my presence out there as much as I can to support shows in danger. For example, I bought the soundtrack and Amazon episodes of Tron: Uprising, even though I had watched it all Live and DVR. I plan to buy the BluRays if/when they come out. To have the ability to say, “Hey, I love this show and would even help chip in to make sure more is made” is a great thing.

  31. leticia says:

    I work hard for my money and I choose to spend it on what I want. It’s no one’s business what I’m spending my money on and I won’t let anyone make me feel bad for doing just that. If I choose to donate a little to help get this movie made, so what? People need to stop worrying about what others are doing and bringing them down for it. Just worry about yourself and kept your comments to yourself. That being said, I’m so excited for this movie to finally happen! Good job, Marshmellows!

  32. Babybop says:

    I don’t watch VM (I just don’t have time to start another show… Ha ha.) but I thought this was awesome! Heck, if Arrested Development had done this, I would kick in all of my shopping money just for a chance for it to come back to screen.

  33. rowan77 says:

    Thank you Matt. All the whining and complaining is such sour grapes, and usually from people who talk a great game about how they’re going to make a film and never have.

    I know an actor who appeared on the series and I’m thrilled that Rob Thomas never let go of his dream and finding a creative way to make it happen when the studio refused to do it.

    Now, I wonder how much money Whedon fans can scrape together for Serenity 2… You know this has got to be on Joss’ mind now!

  34. Leigh says:

    Well said, sir. And now I shall up my pledge to $50. Why? Because, to quote a certain Bobby Brown, “I made this money, you di’n’t.”

    We outta here.

  35. Jenn says:

    I LOVED this. I was about ready to jump on my feet and yell “Amen!”. I feel like you could have caused a riot with that speech. So empowering.

  36. Cori says:

    I think I love you haha. This is one of the best articles I’ve read in a while. Nicely put. Have a great day! :)

  37. Mari says:

    And what I really don’t understand is these people saying that we are DONATING our money. We are not. We’re just buying the DVD/bluray/tshirt/tickets/whatever IN ADVANCE. ‘Cause usually the movie is out and then we buy the dvd or go to the movies to see it but this was just the reverse way of the things. This was just to show WB that the tv show has people’s interesting/fanbase behind it.

  38. Dee says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I didn’t feel bad about giving money to this Kickstarter at all (since, as you mentioned, I do give to charity as well), but I’ve been seeing judgmental comments from some hypocrites (can they say they only spend their money on bare necessities and charities? highly doubtful!) and this is the perfect response to them.

  39. Shaneeequaa Harris says:

    You shouldn’t feel bad about donating your money to a tv show you love. The greedy actors and showrunners should feel bad about begging for money from the poor, especially when they all have enough money to make a film in the first place.

    • amber says:

      let’s spell it out. the point by the kickstarter campagin (besides actually raising the 2 million) is to show that there is interest and an audience for the movie. kristen bell could put up the 2 million and WB will still probably not make the movie. why? just because the lead actress puts up the money, that does not show that people will go to watch it. having this campaign and having so many people donate and in such a fast amount of time shows that there are still many loyal fans out there, who want the movie, and is willing to put their money where their mouths are.

    • Scott R. says:

      Isn’t That What Happened Here?

  40. lex says:

    I agree completely. I give plenty to charity all year long. If I want to kick in my measly $50 to support a project I love I don’t see the difference between that and buying concert tickets. I only pay if it happens so what’s the big deal, for me it’s worth it for the chance to see some quality entertainment. It’s about time someone lets us vote with our wallets.

  41. VegasFan says:

    It’s time to the same thing with LAS VEGAS. I want an article on that. I want to know what happened to Danny, Delinda, Ed and co….

  42. DiCie says:

    I would like to thank everyone who donated. Without you the Veronica Mars story would not have a next chapter, a conclusion.

  43. Mandy says:

    Another major point that came out of this note-worthy task that was accomplished is the sense of community, Matt. Not just for Veronica Mars fans but for fans of other fandoms, other showrunners, media outlets, celebrity talent who were actively posting stories, sending encouragement to Kristen and Rob, sending links out via social media (Facebook, Twitter) to their followers and even making jokes or comments about the power of the fans or donating themselves (Lauren Graham even tweeted about how no one from Gilmore Girls thought of this first and later tweeted about donating money for the movie) My twitter timeline was full of RTs and messages all day and as a fan of Veronica Mars, I couldn’t be more excited. Although there was a worldwide story that occurred yesterday with the new Pope, there was always some Veronica Mars hashtag that was trending the entire day. That’s the kind of publicity that is unheard of in an age where people trend a topic for a few hours before moving on (well unless you count the rampant Beiber hashtags).

    Yesterday was a day that studios that made them stand up and notice fans and possibly the next wave of the future. Though I know this won’t be the first or last time this will happen, I don’t want to see the market flooded with any random show as it will start to lose its importance but it has given hope to other shows that are gone before their time (Chuck as a prime example)

    • ABBY says:

      I kind of agree with you but there’s one very big issue, who decides what’s a “random” show and what’s a worthy show?
      I mean I do think if dozens of TV shows decide to give this a shot over-saturation will doom this method as way of getting movies produced but really there are a lot (and I mean a lot) of shows are viewed by their fan bases as being cancelled before there time, who gets to decide which of these are just “random” shows?
      I bet there are a lot of people out there who think of VM as just a random show…

      And there’s also some dispute over what classifies as a gone before their time show because for me Chuck got a very generous run and finale 13 episode season (which they completely squandered but that’s another issue entirely). They pretty much knew that was the end as well so the writers had plenty of time to plan and give their fans closure. For me that’s not gone before it’s time, I think the network was fair and gave Chuck a generous run.
      I’m not saying it wouldn’t be nice for Chuck fans or that I’m against Chuck getting a movie (I was a fan myself after-all) I just don’t see why that show is apparently deserving yet other “random” shows would just be flooding the market.

      • There are definitely shows that deserve to go this route like Veronica Mars, Chuck, Firefly or any other show with an active fanbase. When I said random, I’m talking about shows that most people may not have heard of or shows that have been off the air for several years that lasted half a season or doesn’t constitute being revived just for the sake of a formula that worked for the fans of Veronica Mars. The WB used to have a show called Grosse Pointe that lasted 17 episodes–I know there were fans of that show but it’s been so long and it’s not a show that keeps being brought up time and again. That’s what I was referring to as random. A show that hasn’t really been heard of in years.

        I only brought up Chuck because Zachary Levi tweeted about the kickstarter fund for Veronica Mars and how it could be used in the future for a possible Chuck movie. I’m all for anyone who can take the model Kristen and Rob are using and fund projects for the fans because in the end, it’s the fans who have the most to gain or lose by its success.

        I just don’t want to see the market become oversaturated by kickstarter projects where the public grows tired of hearing about yet another classic or even future TV program trying to raise funds for a movie/mini-series, web show,etc and die a sudden death.

  44. lilu says:

    So say we all !!!!

  45. Jul says:

    Awesome article!! Completely agree!

  46. dq18 says:

    I’ll start by saying I never watched VM. It wasn’t for lack of interest, it was because I know how fickle the television PTB really are and I didn’t get hooked in from the beginning. I’ve heard great things, but I never made the jump to invest in it because I realized I would neverr really get resolution. I’ve had that from too many other shows that I did catch from the beginning only to be left wondering. As such, I did not contribute. However, I find it amazing that so many fans did and chose to make a difference.

    So the money could have gone to a charity. Curing cancer, feeding the homeless, etc. How many people actually research where their money goes when donating to these charities? I’m not saying all are bad, but after paying the inflated salaries of most administrators very few dollars actually don’t line somebody’s pockets. Why not WB? Maybe my charity of choice is the guy trying to get his movie made. Maybe his name is Rob Thomas, or Kevin Smith, or Steven Spielberg. At the end of the day, they all are people who started with dreams and had help making them reality. I’m proud of the people that banned together to support something they love.

    My only “complaint” is that if people can be this organized and passionate about a television show made into a movie, I only wish that they could unify when it comes to daily impacts in our lives. I won’t use this post to try and push any political agenda, because we’ve all got our own beliefs. What I will say is that maybe, just maybe, we should learn a lesson in this moment. When those with a common interest ban together and support one another, change is possible.

  47. I proudly donated money to help get them to the 2mil mark and I would do it again in a second. Personally I see no difference in me donating some money to help get a movie that I would love to see made than someone who shells out thousands of dollars to make their way to a Con or stands in line for hours to see their favorite singer perform or to see the twinkling lights of Broadway. It also doesnt hurt that this time the creator and the stars loved the idea of getting a green light that they have spent literally years fighting for it. Now that is something you dont see everyday.

  48. Arlene says:

    I know. Couldn’t believe the posts on Deadline. People so scared of fans pitching in to help bring back a great show, they questioned the morality of Kickstarter, donors and donees. I never thought Kickstarter was a charitable endeavor. From the beginning chipping in a few bucks for an IMDB credit or a t-shirt or first listen or digitak view felt creative not charitable.

  49. Renee says:

    BRAVO! STANDING OVATION!!!

  50. Nichola says:

    Love this article – so well written and reflects exactly what I think about the veronica mars project. Any backlash is unfair. Kickstarter is a brilliant site that promotes creativity and the arts. High profile projects like this are great publicity and stems other projects to be funded in the same way. If people want to give to this project let them, people shouldn’t be nasty about it.., we all have favourite shows and if mine had a 2nd chance I’d give (alias 2.0 anyone)

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